Thursday, April 27, 2017

From Polychrome to Xchanges. - Philip Willey April 2017.

Dropped into Polychrome and found Shawn Shepherd looking happy. So he should. He’s been dealing with some healthy sales. Not a huge amount of money by Gagosian standards perhaps but a ringing endorsement of Polychrome and the Kelly Green Collective show ‘100 @ 100’.

The gallery is packed full of life and energy. A vibrant mix of collage and paint.The worksthemselves range from casual and sketchy to heavily worked and give an overall impression of spontaneous unbridled creation. Clearly a lot of quick decision making was involved and the result is averitable cornucopia of striking paintings. 

There’s a lot going on here. Wry comments on art history  Picasso, Gertrude Stein and our own Emily Carr, there are references to pop stars and writers and I think I spotted a few digs at popular culture, hipsters and vegans, drum circles, beards, perhaps evendistressed jeans and Kardashians wearing nude body suits in there too. Or did I imagine some of those things? No matter. There’s certainly a lot of imagery that stays in the mind after leaving the gallery. Green and Kelly obviously had fun making these paintings and it shows.Some of the best pieces haven’t been sold btw.

I stopped in at Xchanges on the way home and I was delighted to find the building as ugly and strange as ever. It hasn’t yet been torn down to build condos. Inside I was met by Sandra Doore who was happy to show me her work mostly based onhandwritten text. I remember another show Sandra had at Xchanges.  I may even have written about it. Amorphous shapes impaled on chrome poles? Some kind of sexual statement? It created quite a stir at the time.

Anyway Sandra bounced back from that and her current show deals with ‘texting and        the effect it has on the human psyche’. She tells me how the show came about. It began she says when she was sending text messages to her son and he kept misunderstanding her. It’s because the tone was missing she thinks. She found she needed to fall back on emojis to show that she meant well. Hence the title of the show ‘Untitled - Lost in Translation III’.

But there’s more to it than that. Sandra finds beauty in being lost. In writing lists of acronyms she found that the words took on their own aesthetic possibilities. So in a sense her work is an exploration of the need to create and the compulsion to communicate ones findings. This of course relates to the times we live in and our dependence on technological means for immediate connection.

 Textese, txt-speak and all the platforms that make a whole new language possible; hashtags Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp have all evolvedby and for compulsive communicators and those among us who feel the need to broadcast a running commentary of our lives. Much like what I’m doing now in fact, but I’ve got a good excuse.

What is texting doing to us?  Well apparently we talk less. Parents talk less to their children and texting has caused quite a few traffic accidents. But we can’t uninvent it so it’s here to stay. Maybe the novelty is wearing off for some people but there is always another generation coming along who have grown up with digital devices. For them cellphones and ipads are perfectly normal,even indispensable, equipment. It will be hard to wean them and harder still to invent a replacement. Anything short of extrasensory perception won’t cut it.

Ever the gadfly I ask Sandra if she uses these tools herself. She admits that she does. In fact she feels she is just beginning her exploration.She is aware of the irony but not of any conflict. Sure a lot of it may be useless babble but these are the times we live in, she says, communicating and belonging are part of being alive. She has a point.

It was an interesting afternoon. Worth fighting my way through the traffic.Roy Green, PJ Kelly and Sandra Doore certainly provided plenty of food for thought. But that’s enough art for today. It’s stopped raining. Time to do some gardening. B4N

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